Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Attorney General Eric Holder has filed a brief on behalf of the White House in preparation for the upcoming Supreme Court hearings on several same-sex marriage cases.
The 36-page brief states, ‘The United States has a strong interest in the eradication of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The President and the Attorney General have determined that classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny … The United States also has an interest because marital status is relevant to many benefits and responsibilities under federal law,’ citing United States v. Windsor as an example of a case which the Court had previously found this to be accurate.
The brief continues: ‘Petitioners are same-sex couples who have been denied the privileges and responsibilities of civil marriage by the States in which they make their homes. Petitioners have formed, and seek legal recognition of, their committed relationships for the same reason that opposite-sex couples to. But their home states persist in excluding them from the “dignity and status” of civil marriage and the “far-reaching legal acknowledgement of the intimate relationship between two people” that civil marriage represents.
‘The laws they challenge exclude a long-mistreated class of human beings from a legal and social status of tremendous import.’
The brief also calls attention to discriminatory laws outside of bans on same-sex marriage, including attempts to ban sexual acts between persons of the same sex, even after such laws were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s landmark case, Lawrence v. Texas, in 2003. Issues of citizenship, parental rights, healthcare access, employment and housing discrimination, discriminatory practices of law enforcement, and hate crime legislation are also discussed in the brief.
The ‘Summary of Argument’ states, ‘The marriage bans challenged in these cases impermissibly exclude lesbian and gay couples from the rights, responsibilities, and status of civil marriage. These facially discriminatory laws impose concrete harms on same-sex couples and send the inescapable message that same-sex couples and their children are second-class families, unworthy of the recognition and benefits that opposite-sex couples take for granted. The bans cannot be reconciled with the fundamental constitutional guarantee of “equal protection of the laws,” [U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV].’
The brief can be read in full here.